(from a church email written in 2017)
As the New Year begins to take shape and resolutions begin to be sought after thinking of “godliness” can provide soundness and “power” behind decisions. The sound doctrine of God’s Word unto godliness will aid in determining the value of a resolution and the value of pursuing them or not. Therefore, renewing our minds with the word of truth is superior in the sense it because the measure of all things.
Eating well, exercising, making wise financial decisions, and spending more time with family and friends are among the leading resolutions commonly made. None of these things are morally or ethically wrong in-and-of themselves; however, the son and daughter of God makes decisions and “lives by the word’s that proceed from the mouth of God”. Therefore, the reason and cause to effect change in these aspects of life are led by the Father and His wisdom. Oftentimes guilt is the leading motivating factor in resolving to change in these aspects of life. The media spends billions of dollars on ads and campaigns, they set out to market and target consumers. These plans spend much on eating well, exercising, and financial freedom. A limited time is spent talking about family and friends and if done it is usually in light of how much time is spent on computers, tablets, and phones instead of with family. Once again, changing these things should be led by the education and wisdom of our Father revealed in the word of God. Motivations and reasons ought to stem from how God views these things and their significance in His eyes, as well as, our use of them.
Before, we examine “the spirit of God” concerning these things it should be noted that in discussing these things we do so in freedom. In other words, once the general understanding of our Father is understood, the details of our decisions in these areas of life may look different based upon the decision of each believer. How you apply the understanding of the scriptures is the liberty each believer has as a son and daughter of God as they seek to “manifest God in the flesh”. Therefore, it isn’t my goal to tell you what or what not to do, or to what measure you should do it; rather, to provide you the “godly” information in which you can choose to make the decision on behalf of our Father to reflect Him in the details of your life.
To Eat or Not To Eat
Again, telling you what to eat and how much to eat and when to eat isn’t the goal here. If your bummed, you shouldn’t be. Making such decisions is the freedom each of us have in Christ and should never be handed over to the dominion of others. The goal is to be “a helper of your joy”.
There are so many diets spoken of, published, blogged, and reviewed. It seems there is nothing new that isn’t already out there until we hear of some medical or scientific advancement of the anatomy and biology of our bodies which leads doctors and scientists to formulate how to live a healthier life and prolong it. In other words, a new diet. Each diet focuses on eating less of something and/or more of something else. Eat less sugar, no eat more sugar….just the right sugar. Eat more carbs, no less carbs. Eat more protein, but not too much protein. Take this, that, and the other vitamin. If you live here take that, if you live there take that. Fish is good, but how you cook it matters. Stay away from alcohol, but a little wine is good for you. Coffee is good, but only a cup a day…..nothing with corn syrup….high fructose corn syrup NEVER!!! An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but don’t eat too much fruit, just in the mornings. My point isn’t to say one way is better than others, but interestingly enough it almost seems God’s Word is silent on the matter. Christian diets are now a new thing taking certain portions of the scripture to produce a God-ordained diet. All of which are essentially destroyed by what God Himself teaches in Acts 10 and 1 Timothy 4.
In all sensitivity, many have physical infirmities in which watching what they eat is a necessity to continue living and/or other nagging issues. Those should take advantage of what they choose to be the best for their bodies. My concern isn’t with physical infirmities where there is a immediate life or death need, but rather the common circumstance we all may find ourselves; that is, to change our eating habits because of the pressure of “the fashion of this world”. Eating and drinking or not eating and drinking can have an impact upon our “body” and our “spirit” and therefore isn’t something we restrain or partake in because of “the wisdom of the world” and all its’ so-called remedies. It ought to be done in view of what our Father says about eating and drinking.
Our Father teaches,
“and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away”
1 Corinthians 7:31
This world has a fashion to it. Fashion differs from a custom or manner in the primary sense Paul uses it here, in that it “passeth away”. One “fashion” comes, then passes, and a new one takes its’ place. Using the world involves all that God gave us in the world to live, the basic of all: “food and raiment” (1 Timothy 6:8). Food in regards to animals, herbs, and fruit from certain plants as found in Genesis 1 -2 is a necessity for maintenance of the life of the soul now after the fall. Our Father says we are to “use” the world. Although as believers we are no longer “of the world”, we are to “use” it. The matter becomes how do we “use” it. We “use” it as long as we do not “abuse” it. Abuse is to use with bad motives or to wrong purposes. Therefore, the world is for our use and we are not to abuse, but notice the last thing Paul writes, “for the fashion of this world passeth away”. Our “use” of the world will one day end, as we know it, because the “fashion of this world” is and will pass away. In light of this Paul says things like,
“Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.”
1 Corinthians 6:13
Paul’s greater point is God’s destruction of the things that cause fornication and not being “joined” (:16) to them, but to “glorify God in body, and in spirit, which are God’s” (:20); however, Paul’s example is true. God made “meats for the belly, and the belly for meats”. This is a part of the “fashion of this world”. Notice, Paul’s stronger point, “but God shall destroy both it and them”.
Therefore, to eat or not to eat, overall should be put in its’ rightful, godly place in our mind and hearts; that is, it is part of “the fashion of this world that passeth away”. The “use” of “this world” is a necessity for all of us, but as God’s sons and daughters, we are to understand,
“for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
For those who use “meat and drink” as a division between themselves and their kin in Christ seek to serve Christ in regards to that which passeth away and therefore their service in causing division, based upon what is eaten, is unacceptable. Rather, having peace with the brethren regarding “meat and drink”, specifically, what is eaten are those who “serveth Christ” and “acceptable to God” (Rom. 14:18). Granted, Romans 14 is in the context of what is offered unto idols and doesn’t precisely fit our concern, what is ate and drank today simply for health reasons stipulated by “the fashion of this world” is still a “doubtful disputation”. The commonality between the two is the attitude of “not eating” something: the difference between our context to that of Romans 14 is different reasons.
What once was declared by God as unclean in the old testament and not sanctified by God is now sanctified and to be received with thanksgiving. In fact, Paul essentially calls, the Bible Diet a doctrine of devils as he writes 1 Timothy 4:1-6,
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.”
I do not know of those who “command to abstain from meats” or what the Bible Diet specifically says, but such line of thinking comes close to what Paul teaches in 1 Tim. 4 and therefore is close to being classified as a “doctrine of the devil”. God has sanctified those which He once called unclean and we can now choose to receive them and do not have to refuse them.
The problem when it comes to eating isn’t necessarily what we eat, although, the world would say otherwise. Every possible ingredient, especially unaltered, is a part of “the rudiments of the world”. Everything was created by God – “for the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof” (1 Cor. 10:26, 28). The problem is the “abusing” of the world. The “abusing” of “the fashion of this world” and its’ “meats and drinks” can become a “power” and a “lust” in our lives. This can manifest in various ways, one of which, is a health concern. The “abusing” of “the fashion of this world” is in some places characterized by God as “the works of darkness”. The “abusing” of alcohol is “drunkenness“, a lust of the flesh and part of “the works of darkness”. Drunkenness is the function of an individual with wine or alchohol “wherein is excess” (Eph. 5:18).
In light of “the fashion of this world”, knowing we are “to use the world“ for the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof, yet not to abuse it, we are to operate on this principle,
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
1 Corinthians 6:12
Paul could give thanks and enjoy “the fulness” of the earth in regard to “meats and drinks”, but not to the point where he would “abuse” it or be brought under its’ power and it become an ungodly influence in his life. He understood that he was bought with a price and he was to glorify God in his body and in his spirit, which are God’s. He understood food and drink were given for his contentment as part of “the fashion of this world” in which we currently live, but that it isn’t “the kingdom of God”. Therefore, Paul was not to abuse it in excess. The excess was the exact thing he was to cast off. There are situations where excess for one isn’t excess for another, but that point is for another time.
Paul’s examination of excess was the influence, need, and “power” it was becoming in his life. This is what we should guard against, but not with resolutions or ordinances, after the commandments and doctrines of men to neglect the body which does not satisfy our flesh. Rather, by having our pleasure, affection, and influence stem from seeking those things which are above, in which Paul writes,
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
Therefore, if your having the thought of eating well this New Year, whatever that means to you, may it be done in light of these things. Eat to the glory of God in moderation, giving thanks, for all is given by God for our good and contentment, knowing that although we are not of this world, we are to use it. Yet, in using it may we not abuse it in excess that can and does effect our “spirit” as we are brought under its’ influencing power. Rather, if we are not eating well or in excess, in general or of a particular thing, our motivation would be first to not be brought under the power of any, but be found under the power of God’s wisdom in His word. Then may we be found in all things and at all times to be solely influenced by the word of God and not by another power found in the excess of food or drink. And for those who use this liberty differently than others in what you eat and drink may it not cause a lack of peace, for doing so, is doing so, based upon “the fashion of this world” which “passeth away” and not based upon “things above” that are eternal.
In the weeks to come I will visit the resolutions of exercising, spending less money, and spending more time with family and friends, as well as, reading the Bible more and going to church more often. I hope this provides some insight and understanding for you to make a godly decision, examining your heart, as it concerns eating and not eating, drinking and not drinking, not only this year, but for the rest of your lives in Christ until “the fashion of this world” finally passes away and we reside in “the kingdom of God” in heaven.
Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher